Browsing All Posts published on »March, 2013«

Science on Screen: DUNE

March 28, 2013 by


Frank Herbert’s DUNE is probably the most popular science fiction novel ever (over 12 million of copies sold). It has everything – a complex and dynamic main hero, great villains, neat ecology (planetology!), philosophical and religious insights, and (what is particularly fascinating to me) a well-structured social world. I have written before on this topic […]

Zoey Reeve and Dominic Johnson: Identity (con)fusion: Social Groups and the Stickiness of Social Glue. A Commentary on Harvey Whitehouse

March 26, 2013 by

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. —Margaret Mead Harvey Whitehouse argues that we will be better able to resolve major challenges of the 21st century—civil wars, collective action, poverty, and environmental change—if we understand the “social glue” that binds […]

Douglas Jones. Modes of Interaction and Social Glue. A Commentary on Harvey Whitehouse

March 24, 2013 by

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Whitehouse convincingly argues for a distinction between two kinds of social glue – identity fusion and social identification. In his earlier work he related these to two memory systems, semantic and episodic (Whitehouse 2000). Here I take a different tack by briefly reviewing two modes of social interaction familiar to linguists and sociologists – the […]

Karl Frost. Ritual Theories, the Sacred, and Social Control. A Commentary on Harvey Whitehouse

March 22, 2013 by


I am quite enthusiastic about Whitehouse’s research program, an impressive body of empirical work in a variety of cultural contexts and using multiple methods, exploring diverging modes of religiosity and ritual practice and their implications for social structure.  I’m delighted to have been asked to respond to his post. I find Whitehouse’s divergent modes hypothesis […]

Timothy M. Waring. On the Application Methods for Various Types of Social Glue. A Commentary on Harvey Whitehouse

March 20, 2013 by


Whitehouse’s article on social cohesion provides a mix of research agenda and aspirational vision. The research agenda springs from the “Ritual, Community, and Conflict” project that he directs, but Whitehouse also aspires to employ an advanced understanding of social cohesion to “predict, prevent, and resolve civil wars,” and to “mobilize a global response to economic […]

Jonathan Lanman. Two Stars and a (Fourth) Wish: Ritual Theory and the Challenges of Fusing Humanity. A Commentary on Harvey Whitehouse

March 18, 2013 by

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There is much to admire in Whitehouse’s ambitious programme of research.  There is the testing of a theory that offers greater precision in describing and explaining social cohesion. There is the formulation of an account of psychological kinship that can serve as a reminder that cultural and evolutionary approaches can work together to produce compelling insights.  […]

Gordon Ingram and Karolina Prochownik: The Notion of “Identity Fusion” Raises More Questions Than It Answers. A Commentary on Harvey Whitehouse

March 16, 2013 by


In his target article Whitehouse describes a fascinating and extremely worthwhile program of research. We understand that this research is in its early stages, and so we are not too concerned that at the moment, his exposition of it raises many more questions for us than it answers. We offer up these questions, not really […]

Harvey Whitehouse Responds

March 15, 2013 by


I have just been reading through these very thought-provoking posts and there are many observations it would be great to discuss further, including the point that social glue can be used for immoral ends (Voron) and that often a darker side to ingroup bonding is outgroup hatred (Anderson and Zimmerman). Bill Swann echoes these points […]

William Swann: How can social glue foster cooperation rather than competition? A commentary on Harvey Whitehouse

March 14, 2013 by


In an audaciously ambitious article, Whitehouse proposes a solution to three of the world’s perennial problems: (a) predicting, preventing, and resolving civil wars; (b) channeling social cohesion for the collective good; and (c) mobilizing a global response to economic inequality and environmental threat. The solution, he contends, is to buttress our understanding of something he […]

Harvey Whitehouse. Three Wishes for the World

March 12, 2013 by


If you had three wishes to change the world, what would they be? Perhaps you would like to put an end to war? Reverse global warming? Or eliminate extreme poverty? The key to solving all these problems is glue. It doesn’t come in a tube. It’s a very special adhesive – the kind that holds […]

Starving the Enemy

March 10, 2013 by


I recently finished reading Perfect Health Diet:  Four Steps to Renewed Health, Youthful Vitality, and Long Life by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminets. It’s a great book and I recommend it to all, who are not afraid of delving into the rather technical issues of health and diet. What I particularly liked about the book is […]

Thou Shalt Tweet

March 6, 2013 by


I have been vaguely aware that a social networking service, called Twitter, has been gaining in popularity over the last few years, but I did not pay much attention to it. My general attitude is that I will learn something new only when there is a clear reason to do so. However, last week within […]

The Cliodynamics of Cliodynamics

March 3, 2013 by


Marc Parry, the author of the Chronicle article on Cliodynamics, reposted the Google Ngram graphs from my last blog on The Percolator. There are about a dozen replies there. One says, “Interesting article sort of but the comments are even more amusing.” These comments remind me of an encounter I had at a Columbia University […]


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